Longtime Runner, UMD Alum Reacts to Grandma’s Marathon Cancellation

Joanna Olson was already training for the Big Sur Marathon in California before that was cancelled as well.

DULUTH, Minn. – Another major event is taken down by the coronavirus pandemic as Grandma’s Marathon has been cancelled for the first time in 43 years. Longtime runner and Glencoe, Minnesota native Joanna Olson spoke about her initial reaction to the news.

“Well I was bummed, of course, training for it. Bummed for not only the runners, the volunteers, the spectators, the establishments that rely on Grandma’s Marathon and the group that puts it together. But I wasn’t surprised. I definitely think it was the right decision for them to cancel it,” Olson said.

Olson was already training for the Big Sur Marathon in California before that was cancelled as well.

“I was going to do that and kind of go from there into Grandma’s Marathon. I was already up to about 18 miles so I already had gotten in quite a bit of distance,” said Olson.

Olson has been a part of the race weekend for nearly 20 years, which includes volunteering as well.

“Last year it was awesome being at the finish line with the elite athletes. It was just amazing seeing everyone cross the finish line,” Olson said.

The UMD alum has also ran in the half and full marathons, too.

“I think two of my favorite parts is the one where you can see the lift bridge come into view so you know you’re getting closer. And also when you get into town, just the fans is awesome and then of course, crossing the finish line,” said Olson.

Olson is also a nurse so she knows firsthand why it was important to cancel the races.

“Duluth is such a strong community. You want them to be safe and healthy first before anything. And as long as we’re doing that, we can move forward and get through this pandemic,” Olson said.

Runners are still able to run the marathon virtually, something Olson plans to do as a charity runner for “Brave Like Gabe”, a non-profit that supports rare cancer research with the motto: “Running on Hope”.

“For all the people that were sponsoring me to run a marathon, I want to make sure to continue to fulfill that agreement and run my full marathon this summer,” said Olson.

All runners will be automatically entered into a virtual version of the race they signed up for. For more information on submitting your results, head to the Grandma’s Marathon website.

Categories: Professional Sports, Sports, University of Minnesota – Duluth